It gives me no pleasure to write this, but the Thrashers have just gone through the motions since the All-Star Break. The team effort level has fallen apart in the last five games.
Way back in October the Thrashers were working hard but not cashing in scoring chances at key moments. I never expected them to qualify for the playoffs but I did expect them to stay in the race until at last Christmas time.
If the check out the playoffs odds chart (here) you can see the Thrashers playoff odds fell below 10% between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why is 10% an important threshold? Well the Washington Capitals pulled off the biggest playoff race comeback in the last decade. At their lowest point their playoffs were down around 9-10%.
Crossing the 10% playoff odds line means that for all practical purposes this team was eliminated back on Dec 12 & 13 when back-to-back losses to the Bruins ended any realistic playoff hopes.
Now one thing about professional athletes is that they have a tremendous capacity to believe in the impossible. Many of them do things that would be impossible for the average person. Many of them reached the NHL against impossible odds. Pro athletes as a group don't seem terribly impressed by odds. They always vow to "fight until we are mathematically eliminated" and so forth.
And despite the terribly long odds, in early January the team showed some signs of turning in a positive direction. For the first time all year they managed a sustained period where they were competitive in the shots on goal over multiple games. However, it all vanished after the All-Star break and the team effort level collapsed.
Since the All-Star Break the Thrashers have been out shot 177 to 135 (allowing 30+ shots in every contest) and out scored 15 to 6. Their playoff hunt has been over for quite a while and now they are playing like a group that has--well--nothing much to play for. Amazingly the Thrashers still have 29 games left in this season--and given the effort level of the team--wins will be few and far between.